Originally published on RxGirl on Friday, 30 November 2012. The original post was published with white text on white background, so the only way to read it on the site is to highlight the text. To make things easier for everyone, I have copied and pasted the article here for you to read.
The number of nutritional supplements which are available today can be pretty intimidating to those who are not familiar with the benefits which they confer on those who take them. If you also consider the performance supplements which are marketed to fitness-minded individuals, and which are marketed mostly to men, women are often left bewildered. Since it is my aim to address the issues of women in this article, I will not discuss general supplements such as multivitamins, CLA, fish oil, CoQ10 or the like. Rather, I will focus on supplements which have demonstrated efficacy in treating female-specific woes.
Biotin: This substance promotes growth of healthy hair and nails and is something I have taken daily for many years. Though I have horribly thin nails (and continue to suffer from them despite biotin), my hair has actually gotten considerably thicker in the past ten years, and I honestly believe that biotin has played a large role with respect to my hair health. Another great benefit of biotin is the demonstrated effect it has on regulation of blood glucose. I recommend taking the maximum dose possible, 5,000 micrograms per day.
Calcium: Calcium is a mineral which is a critical component of bone health. There are three mistakes I see people making when taking this supplement:
1. Taking it without Vitamin D or magnesium – Both Vitamin D and magnesium must be present in order for the body to be able to absorb calcium.
2. Taking it on an empty stomach – Calcium is best absorbed when taken with food.
3. Taking large doses at one time – The body is unable to absorb much more than 500 milligrams of calcium at one time. Since the general daily dose in women of childbearing age is 1,000 mg, supplementation should be broken up into 2 doses of 500 milligrams each per day.
DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor hormone which is produced in the adrenal glands which is later converted to sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Levels of DHEA fall with advancing age and can also decline as a result of exposure to stress. Signs of declining DHEA include stress, fatigue, memory loss, depression, dry skin, and decreased libido. Women are struggling with infertility may also find that DHEA will increase their fertility by promoting hormonal balance and ovulation. I generally feel that any woman over the age of 35 would benefit from supplementation with DHEA at 5 to 15 milligrams per day.
Folic Acid: Many women are aware that supplementation with folic acid decreases the risk of neural tube defects in a developing fetus, but not many know that folic acid has been proven to lower blood pressure in women and prevent development of hypertension. A daily dose of 800 micrograms is advised.
ALA: Alpha lipoic acid, or ALA for short, is effective in regulating blood glucose, optimizing carbohydrate consumption and reducing sugar cravings. Effective dose ranges are between 100 to 200 milligrams, taken two to three times daily.
Chromium Picolinate: Chromium picolinate can decrease sugar cravings and is effective at regulating blood glucose. A dose of 200 micrograms three times daily is optimal.
Vanadyl Sulfate: This is another supplement which can curb sugar cravings. Take 10 milligrams three times daily.
Phosphatidylserine Complex: This supplement supports the adrenal glands during stressful times. Those with poorly functioning adrenal glands should not take this supplement. A daily dose of 200 milligrams taken earlier in the day is recommended.
Melatonin: Melatonin is well known for its effectiveness in balancing out sleep patterns and treating insomnia. This is due to the fact that it reduces cortisol levels (cortisol is known as the stress hormone). Women who suffer from infertility should not take this as it can aggravate the condition. Start with 0.5 milligrams shortly before bedtime and slowly increase the dose by 0.5 mg increments ever few days until you get the desired effect. Do not take more than 5 mg in a dose. Some experts recommend that melatonin only be taken in the short term for isolated insomnia bouts.
B-Complex – B-complex formulations consist of the following: B complex capsule contains the following vitamins: folic acid, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3),panthothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), cyanocobalamin (B12) and biotin. This complex supports memory, improves mood, decreases anxiety and combats the effects of stress. It also boosts metabolism, thus increasing energy. I have encountered remarkable responses to B-complex in people who have suffered from depression and who did not respond to prescription antidepressants. I recommend 100 mg per day.
GLA: Gamma-linoleic acid can be very effective in treating the symptoms of PMS, such as menstrual cramps and breast tenderness, especially when taken in tandem with magnesium and vitamin B6. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day.
Magnesium Glycinate: This is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium which helps not only with PMS but also with hot flashes which some menopausal women experience. Recommended dosage is 250 milligrams one to three times daily, and should be taken with food.
Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is effective in mellowing the symptoms of PMS, menopause, and morning sickness associated with early pregnancy. It is also effective for depression, acne, and bladder inflammation. Take between 50 to 600 milligrams per day in two to three divided doses.
Cranberry Extract: This is an excellent supplement for good urinary tract health, as it renders the inner bladder walls slippery so that bacteria are unable to adhere to them. Any women who have recurrent bladder infections should take this supplement at a daily dosage of 400 to 500 milligrams.
Diindolylmethane: This extract is found in cruceiferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower and supports healthy estrogen metabolism by optimizing breakdown of excess estrogen. A great formula is DIM-Plus by Nature’s Way. Take two capsules per day.